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Interview

Did You Clean Your Tongue Today?

A tongue cleaner changed Monique Foy’s life, and it will change yours too. 

Have a colorful plate of food, drink tons of water throughout the day, and move your body – that’s the recipe to good health, isn’t it? Ayurveda says yes, but a strong immune system starts with oral hygiene. So brush and floss twice a day – we know that. Monique Foy says yes, but we can’t forget all of the nasty bacteria that lives on the tongue! Tongue scraping takes all of two minutes, but can have a significant impact on your overall health – with sparkling fresh breath as an added bonus! Read on to discover how a tongue cleaner changed Monique’s life.

How did you first discover a tongue cleaner?

It was during my first yoga and Ayurvedic retreat. At the end, I clearly remember our teacher saying, “If there is one thing you take away from this retreat, it’s that you should scrape your tongue every morning, because it will change your life.” Some of us rolled our eyes thinking it was a bit of an exaggeration. Now, almost ten years have passed and I don’t think I’ve missed a day since.

Ultimately, seeing that thick slime on my tongue scraper every morning makes me more aware of what I put into my body. As such, this small habit started to inspire other good habits. In other words,it was the catalystto finally prioritizing my health. In fact, I left my career in fashion to launch an Ayurvedic tongue cleaner brand. I guess my teacher could not have been more right!

What are the benefits of tongue scraping?

In a nutshell, tongue scraping has the following benefits: better breath and oral hygiene, a balanced oral microbiome, and improved digestion and immunity.

Studies have shown that tongue-dwelling bacteria is the main cause of bad breath. In addition, they have been linked to issues like plaque build-up and tooth decay. Your mouth is an important first line of defense for the body. As such, tongue-dwelling bacteria can also have negative effects on the regulation of the immune system.

Ayurveda also believes that scraping activates saliva production. This promotes the body’s digestive fire, and good digestion is the foundation of health.

Why is it important for our tongue cleaners to be 100% copper?

Copper is antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. In Ancient Egypt, soldiers used fillings from their bronze weapons (an alloy of copper) to heal wounds. That’s also why traditional Ayurvedic tongue cleaners were made in copper. A recent study found that copper hospital beds harboured 95% fewer bacteria than conventional beds! Copper also lasts for a very long time so you don’t have to replace your tongue cleaner as often as you would for a plastic one.

When and how often should we scrape our tongues?

I recommend scraping once per day, first thing in the morning. As soon as you wake up, your body starts to produce more saliva. This causes you to reingest the bacteria that has accumulated on your tongue during the night. Same goes for if you drink water or your morning coffee before scraping. So my motto is wake; scrape.

You can also scrape after you have exercised, which is when some people tend to get dry mouth – and consequently bad breath. Or any time you want to freshen your breath – after a garlic-y meal, after drinking champagne, or before a hot date!

You can scrape at night before bed, but you’re not going to see as much of a result as in the morning, so I just stick to once a day in the AM.

What else is a part of your morning wellness routine?

Many weird and wonderful things!

After waking and scraping, I do an ancient Ayurvedic technique that releases mucus from the back of your throat. Gross, I know, but I haven’t been sick in over two years and I attribute that to this technique, coupled with tongue cleaning. It involves taking a deep breath in, holding your breath as you use your fingers to close your ears, nose and mouth, and then releasing them all with a pop! On the exhale.

Then, I drink one large glass of water at room temperature. I’m a Vata Dosha and find it hard to drink enough water throughout the day, so having a regular hydration routine has helped. I gave up on lemon water a long time ago when my dentist gave me a 30-minute lecture on how bad it was for your teeth.

After this quick detox regime, I move onto my mat. On a good morning, I’ll do my own Cosmic Yoga practice (a mix of yoga and visualisation) or practice with Yoga Glo (I love Dice Iida Klein’s classes!). But most mornings, my movement routine consists of two things: 5 minutes of spinal waving and 5 minutes of fascia rolling. After 10 minutes of these two bizarre exercises, I feel like a completely new person! If I’m still feeling sleepy, I put on my favourite pick-me-up song and do 5 minutes of ecstatic dance. I got over worrying about what my neighbours think of me a long time ago!

I drink a second glass of water with 20 drops of organic Chaste Tree Berry extract from Bootsy Health – a natural, hormone-balancing plant that has really helped to regulate my cycle after I went off the pill. Then, I make a quick bowl of oats, cinnamon, coconut yogurt and frozen berries. My morning routine is finished off with some basic supplements: B12, K2, fish oil and iron.

Must-have beauty tools or products?

I love Susanne Kaufmann’s Face Fluid Line F. I have rosacea, though, so when I have a breakout, I stay with what’s safe: Avène Skin Recovery Cream. I’m also trying Mother Dirt’s AO+ Mist, but am only on day two, so it’s too early to tell.

What are some other simple, everyday lifestyle habits that could greatly benefit our health?

In Ayurveda, it’s not really about what you eat, but how you digest. Thinking about meals in this way tends to take off that layer of self-shaming—that voice inside your head saying “you shouldn’t eat that; it’s bad”—and switches it to something much more rational.

Combining a sugary bread roll with a protein like beef, plus something starchy like potatoes, just doesn’t work for most people’s digestive systems. Add to that something fried and something alcoholic, and you’re probably going to experience bloating and fatigue pretty quickly.

So, I try and eat according to what I know I can digest well, without it zapping too much energy from me. This naturally just leads to better food choices, because it’s when I’m tired that I’ll veer towards unhealthy foods.

A go-to food or drink to boost the immune system?

100% cacao chocolate. You have to find a good one because they are definitely not all created equal (I like the one by French chocolatier Weiss)! I was very addicted to sugar for a long time, but this was one of my snack-hacks that helped me wean off of it slowly. Most people will find it unpalatable at first, but you grow to love it! Avoiding too much sugar is one of the greatest things you can do for your immunity, so anything that helps you do that, I’d put in the immunity boost category.

What are you looking forward to most this summer?

I’m hoping to make it to Menorca – a small, Spanish island in the Mediterranean. I went for the first time last year and it’s one of the most magical places I’ve ever been. I thought a laid-back, unbuilt island without crowds in the Mediterranean during the height of summer just didn’t exist, but it turns out that place is Menorca! You spend your days exploring ancient trails through forests and cliffs, stumbling across beautiful hidden coves along the way. The food is amazing and inexpensive, and the old towns have an undercurrent of chic.

Alicia Zhang

Originally from Los Angeles, Alicia lived in Shanghai for 11 years before moving back to the states to attend the University of Miami, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and minors in art and philosophy. Currently residing in New York City, Alicia applies her knowledge of strategic communication and design in her career. She enjoys painting, rugby, exploring, and more often than not, you’ll find her petting someone’s dog.

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